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Question "The van was running on the right side of the road."

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
the second term of our school started today. It's too hot to commute in this season.

By the way, I have a question about an expression from the textbook.

Can you say, "The van was running on the right side of the road." I don't think you can.

Here's the passage including the expression from the textbook we use for 11th graders.

Takuya sat in the back seat of his host father's van. The van was running on the right side of the road.
The street signs and billboards were written in English and French. Even the air smelled different.
"This is downtown Vancouver. It's a beautiful city, right?" said Mr. Martin as he drove along the street.
"Yes, it is," said Takuya.
"We all like it here. You can enjoy both the ocean and the mountains in Vancouver. You know, we had
the Olympics here in 2010."
Mr. and Mrs. Martin and their children, Jane and Daniel, asked Takuya lots of questions about his life
in Japan. He was happy, but he thought, "If I knew more about Japan, I could answer their questions better."

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 

Uncle Frank

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Probably "driving" instead of "running" would sound better to you , but running would be understood OK and you even could say "going" instead of "running" and it would be understood. The main meaning seems to be the van isn't driving on the left side of the road as it would be in Japan and Takuya notices the difference.
 

hirashin

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Thanks for the help, Uncle Frank. Do you think the sentence including "the van was running" sounds right as it is?
 

Uncle Frank

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If I read it or heard someone speak it , I would not think there was anything wrong with the sentence. For a non-native speaker , I might replace it with "driving" for it to make more sense , but running is fine to me. There was even a song with "running down the road" in it that was popular. Not sure if it would sound right to a British person , but fine where I live.
 

mdchachi

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If I read it or heard someone speak it , I would not think there was anything wrong with the sentence. For a non-native speaker , I might replace it with "driving" for it to make more sense , but running is fine to me. There was even a song with "running down the road" in it that was popular. Not sure if it would sound right to a British person , but fine where I live.
Agree with Frank. It sounds fine.

Note, "running" can also mean that the engine is running. In the textbook example it's clear but if you said "the car is running on the side of the road" it could mean that the car is parked but the engine is running or it could mean that the car is driving along the shoulder.
 

johnnyG

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It's fairly common here to see "Running Lane" or something similar on multilane roads. This usage doesn't sound american--who might say "running down/up/along the right side of the road," using those words to imply movement. As above, "on" doesn't necessarily imply movement--the car could be idling (running) on the right side of the road.

Tho if you add a little, movement becomes very clear: "running against traffic on the right side of the road". And I also get more sense of movement (i.e., driving) when it might be "running on the wrong side of the road". The 'problem' here is the ambiguity of 'right side' as either 'righthand side' or 'proper/correct side'.
 

Michael2

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Yes, don't know about America but I would always say the left-hand side or right-hand side. It would be very weird not to do so in England.
 

hirashin

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Thank you all for your help. How about these? Do they sound right?
(1) The van was running on the right-hand side of the road.
(2) Cars run (/drive/move) on the left-hand side of the road in Japan.
 

Michael2

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I think most people just say "the car/van is/was on the right /left hand side of the road". You don't need an extra verb.
In general, you use you/they/we, e.g "They drive on the right in France"
"What side of the road do you drive on in England?"
 

hirashin

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I think most people just say "the car/van is/was on the right /left hand side of the road". You don't need an extra verb.

Oh, really? Then does this make sense?
Takuya sat in the back seat of his host father's van. The van was on the right-hand side of the road.

In general, you use you/they/we, e.g "They drive on the right in France"
"What side of the road do you drive on in England?"

Does this sentence sound right?
We drive on the left in Japan while they do on the right in Canada.
 

Michael2

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Oh, really? Then does this make sense?
Takuya sat in the back seat of his host father's van. The van was on the right-hand side of the road.



Does this sentence sound right?
We drive on the left in Japan while they do on the right in Canada.

Yes, exactly. Although it would probably be a car if there was a backseat.

Yes, but say "drive" instead of "do"
 

Lothor

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As a Brit, I'm entirely happy with the original sentence. When advertising cars - I once worked for a free ads paper - people often described their car as an excellent runner. I don't think that right-hand side rather than right side is necessary either - though there's nothing wrong with the extra words.
 

Michael2

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Yeah but you don't usually say the car is running on a particular side. It's the engine that is actually the thing running so you get the nickname "runner" for a car, or you could say "she's running really nicely", but those words and sentences are really referring to the engine, but there's no connection between the running of an engine and which side of the road the car is on.
I'm really surprised you're a Brit if you would accept "right side" :)
Which part of the UK are you from? I'm from a bit south of London and there's no way anyone I know wouldn't say left-hand side or right-hand side, otherwise it would sound like you mean the "correct" side, and just be ham-fisted.
 

Lothor

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I'm from near Manchester. Point taken about running more commonly used to refer to the engine itself but I felt no dissonance at all when I read the original sentence.
 
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